Marc Christ
Brand Manager, Modified Mustangs & Fords
October 5, 2011
Photos By: Pete Epple

Marty Gibson traded a turbo drag radial project for the empty shell that would become this gorgeous Fox.

Everyone has heard of the barter system. If you trade someone for something of greater value than what you're offering (like a project car), then you've made a good deal.

Other times, you're just tired of the current project and are willing to trade it for something of less value. Even though you're technically downgrading, it's worth the trade just to have exactly what you want.

That is exactly what happened to Marty Gibson Jr. of Manteno, Illinois. Gibson (only 31 years old) is a lineman by trade; owns his own restaurant; is the father of three kids; is engaged to be married to his girlfriend, Darcy; and runs a side venture, Gibson Custom Hotrods (GCH), with his father, Marty Sr., and brother, Bert. The three converge on the shop (at Marty Sr.'s house) in their spare time to build some really sick hot rods.

Marty was on about his tenth Mustang, a drag radial project that he purchased at an auction. A turbo combination had already been started but not having any turbo experience, Marty opted to sell (or trade) the car for a max-effort street car.

At the NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl that year (2007) in Joliet, Illinois, Marty put a "for sale or trade" sign on the windshield of his unfinished project. Matt Bell, who wanted to trade a back-halved Fox for the drag radial car, approached him. Since this is exactly what Marty wanted, the two settled on terms and the exchange was made a few weeks later. With the desire to showcase what GCH can do, Marty knew this thing had to be wild. The body was in good condition, but he and Bert spent countless hours stripping the car to bare metal. Marty Sr. then worked his magic, making the body straighter than it was when it rolled out of Dearborn almost 20 years earlier. After a Cervini's Stalker front bumper and 6-inch Harwood hood were chosen, the elder Gibson laid the green pearl and silver metallic undercoats. Then Bob Thrash of Thrash Designs (Cedar Lake, Indiana) laid out and painted the orange and black tribal flames, along with the "FoxFire" moniker on the side of the hood. Marty Sr. followed up with 10 coats of clearcoat. Once it was completely dry, the paint was painstakingly wet-sanded and buffed to a mirror finish.

With 9-second timeslips in mind, Marty needed serious firepower. To fulfill his need for naturally aspirated horsepower, he turned to Albers Automotive in Kankakee, Illinois. There, Bruce Albers assembled a 427ci stroker with Probe pistons and lightweight I-beam rods. He topped it off with a set of 200cc ported (by JDC Engineering of Minonk, Illinois) Edelbrock Victor Jr. heads (2.08/1.60-inch valves), a custom-grind roller camshaft, Jesel shaft-mount rockers, a Super Victor intake manifold, and a Bigs carburetor, fed by Aeromotive and Holley fuel system components.

To support roughly 600 hp, Marty installed a C-4 built by Mokena Transmission Service of Mokena, Illinois. He coupled that with a Neil Chance 4,500-stall converter, a 9-inch with 4.11s, Moser axles, and four-link suspension. He added QA1s in the rear and Strange coilovers in the front.

Stout 31-inch slicks on Billet Specialties wheels have taken the hatch down the quarter-mile to a best of 9.73 at 137 mph. Marty installed a nitrous system set up for a wet 200 shot but has yet to spray it. He expects to be in the low 9s when he finally gets around to applying the juice, but he's waiting to get his NHRA license first. Until then, he runs in local bracket classes and at the NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl at Route 66 in Joliet.

Though most would never dream of it, Marty even drives this thing on the street. When we asked what he likes most about the car, Marty said, "The looks I get at the gas station when I go to pick up a gallon of milk."

Little do those "lookers" know that Marty's racecar-that-could-be-a-showcar is just one of the many fine hotrods to come out of the Gibson's garage. And to think, someone gave it to him on trade for a measly drag radial car. We see who got the sweet end of that deal.

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